Speakers Biographies

For the complete schedule and times, see the Program Schedule page.

 
 

Paul Bain

Paul Bain

Speech topic: Kenyan Purple Tea (Sunday)

Paul Bain, Tea Captain at JusTea, partners exclusively with small-scale tea farmers in Kenya. He has been travelling back and forth from Vancouver to Kenya since 2012. Paul has made over 10 trips to the region and is passionate about connecting tea drinkers back to the farmer who picked their leaves. Through his studies, travels and relationships on the ground, Paul knows the Kenyan tea industry inside and out. His favourite tea is PURPLE and Paul loves sharing the story of this incredible new tea cultivar!

 
 
 
 
 

Aurora Mejía Benítez

Aurora Mejía Benítez

Speech topic: Tea and Health Benefits: Scientific Evidence? (Saturday)

Aurora Mejía Benítez is a medical doctor working with clinical research projects to determine the factors involved in the development of Metabolic Diseases such as Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes based on nutrition, environment, genetics and molecular factors providing a predictive diagnostic model.

Last year she began her journey to become a Tea Sommelier with the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada. Since then, her interest has grown and now part of her research is focused on Camellia Sinensis and its impact in culture cells of adipocytes, to study inflammation pathways and adipogenesis.

Program Description:
Tea and Health Benefits: Scientific Evidence? will explore the benefits of tea from a scientific perspective. First we’ll begin with a general introduction of what we know of the tea plant based on genetics and molecular studies, then explore the latest scientific studies focused on the health benefits of tea.

 

David Campbell

David Campbell

Speech topic: Confronting Counterfeit Tea, Examples from Taiwan (Saturday)

David Campbell is a Canadian currently residing in the San Francisco area of California. An academic by training, he spent 30 years in the wine industry prior to entering the tea business in 2007. David has been travelling regularly to Taiwan since 2002. Early on he used his free time to visit tea gardens and to meet the growers. Many of these growers became fast friends and Tillerman Tea emerged in 2007 to bring their fine teas to the North American Market.

David has published several articles on tea in “The Art of Eating” and was a contributor to the recent book, “The Soul and Spirit of Tea” He is currently working on book on the teas of Taiwan.

 
 

Raelene Gannon

Speech topic: Tea & Cannabis: Plants With a Whole Lot More to Offer (Sunday)

tea and all its splendour embodies Raelene Gannon’s knowledge, passion and ‘taste’ in tea. The limitless variety of types, blends, flavours and aromas offers ample opportunity for Raelene to develop unique tea combinations not available in the conventional tea bag market.

A certified Tea Sommelier, one of the first 15 in Canada, Raelene is truly an expert in all things tea, including countries of origin, ceremonies, manufacturing and in particular, tea menus, food pairings and merchandising.

Merging her professional background in the chocolate, gift and confection industries with the expertise in tea, Raelene brings her vast marketing, sourcing and retail operational experience along with her unique business acumen all together to inform, entertain and empower you to be the best you can in the tea business.

Tea, is Gannon’s terroir, the place from which she blooms subject to the influences of her passion, creativity and boundless energy. To taste her tea and to try her recipes, is to discover a flavourful, health-giving and modern take on tea.

Her cookbook, tea: from cup to plate was released Feb 1, 2015.

 

Kevin Gascoyne

Speech topic: The ‘Champagne of Teas’ (Friday VIP Event)
Speech topic: Tea 101 (Saturday)

British tea taster Kevin Gascoyne has been buying tea in Asia since 1989. He started his career as a tea writer for publications in the U.K., the U.S.A. and Japan. Over the years his passion for the black teas of India has spread to the plantations of many other countries.

In Canada he is one of the owners of the Camellia Sinensis Tea Houses and Tea Schools of Montréal and Québec City. Each year he and his fellow tasters travel to the tea gardens of Asia to select teas for their internationally renowned catalogue.

As well as regular public tastings, Kevin is also involved in a wide range of workshops, conferences, seminars, research and consulting activities in North America and Asia. He also co-authored of the prize-winning book ‘Tea, History, Terroirs, Varieties’.

 

Linda Gaylard

Speech topic: Form, Function and Style: A History of Teaware (Saturday)

Linda Gaylard is a Tea Sommelier located in Toronto. She is the author of the international best selling, The Tea Book, Winner of the 2017 World Tea Award for Best Tea Publication. Published by DK, a division of Penguin Random House, The Tea Book is a world tour of the art of tea. It has been translated into 12 languages.

Linda appears in media interviews, is a consultant and spokesperson for the food
and beverage industry, lectures, teaches tea classes and hosts tea events.
Website: The Tea Stylist Social @theteastylist

Program Description:
Form, Function and Style: A History of Teaware will examine how the vessels we use for tea, evolved through time and usage, and were influenced by culture and advances in technology.

 

Michelle Pierce Hamilton

Michelle Pierce Hamilton

Speech topic: Hawaiian Teas & Terriors (Saturday)

Michelle Pierce Hamilton is a Nutritionist, Certified Tea Sommelier, and Healing Arts Practitioner/Teacher. These combined philosophies and disciplines are the spirit behind Michelle’s Nutrition-based tea brand, beTeas and all new, The Tea Lounge, a beautiful place to buy and experience exceptional teas in London, Ontario.

An educator at heart, Michelle is a faculty instructor at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in London, in addition to incepting and instructing the Canadian Tea Sommelier Certification program offered at Fanshawe College. A long-time industry professional in project management, Michelle also continues to work part-time as a Project Management Consultant for London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).

Passionate about tea and health, Michelle believes tea is the world’s healthiest beverage and that it provides doorway to healthier diet and lifestyle.

 

Scarlet Jory

Scarlet Jory

Speech topic: Zen of Tea: Experiencing the Zen Influences in the Way of Tea (Saturday)

T. Scarlet Jory is a university graduate with Bachelor degrees in Classics/Anthropology and in Honors Religious Studies/Adult Education. She is working on her Masters Degree in Religions & Cultures with a dual focus on Paganism and East Asian philosophies. One of her passions include writing and inspiring people to read, to research, and also to write. Her other passion is tea. She is a published author with two book in print (and more to come), a chapter in an anthology, two anthologies she edited, and several articles. She spoke at the Parliament of World Religions this November 2018 in Toronto.Currently, she is finishing her Masters degree, aiming to graduate Summer of 2019. Her research topic for her GRP is Tea and Religiosity in Ch’an Buddhist Temples of China: A look at how tea has been used in religious practices through the early history of Ch’an Buddhism.

Program Description:
“The whole idea of Teaism is a result of the Zen concept of greatness in the smallest incidents of life. Taoism furnished the basis for aesthetic ideals, Zennism made them practical.” – Katuzo Okakura: The Book of Tea

A historical look at the journey of tea from China into Japan to become the Japanese Tea Ceremony.

 

Aurélien Leftick

Aurélien Leftick

Speech topic: The Tea Growers Tales (Sunday)

Aurélien Leftick is the co-founder of JalamTeas, an adventure tea company that takes you into the fabled world of rare Puerh teas. Each Tea is hand sourced by Jeff Fuchs, the first westerner to complete the heralded Ancient Tea Horse Road.

During the last 7 years, Aurélien has helped introduce over 65 different shou and sheng puerhs to the world beyond Yunnan borders. He isn’t only on a mission to make quality puerh more accessible but also to share the stories of the aboriginal communities that grow the leaf.

 
 
 

Zhen Lu

Zhen Lu

Speech topic: The Unknown of a Well-Known Tea: Pu’er and Its Ageing (Sunday)

Zhen Lu is a Chinese tea professional, devoted to sharing her knowledge and expertise with tea lovers. Brought up in a tea family with over 20 years of experience in Chinese tasting grade tea, Zhen’s foundation is built on the pillars of academia, farming and processing, giving her a profound understanding of all aspects of Chinese tea.

Zhen is the first in North America to advocate “Taste the tea, know the tea”, the concept of accessing all the information about a tea entirely through tasting. She is dedicated to bringing advanced Chinese tea tasting experience and knowledge to tea sommelier graduates and tea tasting enthusiasts.

 
 
 

Jeffrey McIntosh

Jeffrey McIntosh

Speech topic: Journey into Pu-erh Tea (Sunday)

Jeffrey McIntosh, followed tea master and owner of Denong Tea, Wanyu (Elaine) Luo 11 years ago. Jeffrey worked for Denong Tea China in 2007 and after he came back to the US, he opened multiple tea companies. He is so determined to advance his achievements in Pu-erh tea that he has chosen to follow Wanyu Luo again. He is now very excited to share his knowledge and experience with tea lovers around the world.

Website: denongtea.com

Program Description:
Join Jeffrey McIntosh as he shares with you his 10 years of personal experience in the tea industry. Visiting multiple tea mountains and tea growing regions, he will share with you his journey and knowledge about what Pu-erh tea is, how to differentiate safe and clean tea, and the health benefits of Pu-erh.

 

Amy Taylor

Amy Taylor

Speech topic: The Art of Cup Tossing: Reading the Tea Leaves (Sunday)

For 30+ years Amy Taylor has been a Tea Enthusiast and a professional Tea Leaf Reader. She is the sole owner of The Art of Tea and Tasseomancy and Mystic Tearoom as well Amy is a Certified TAC Tea Sommelier Professional. She is also in the process writing a book about the mystical side of Tea. Over the last 20+ years, she has collected an extensive collection of Tasseomancy related advertising materials, cups and saucers, books, postcards, novelties etc. She plans on creating a Tasseomancy Museum out of her Mystic Tearoom in Hamilton within the next two years. Visit her website at www.taotat.ca.

Program Description:
Tea is steeped in superstition, and reading fortunes with it hearkens back to days of the old divinatory art forms of the Shamans; interpreting symbols and formations made by random objects. Tasseomancy is the Art and Practice of divination by the interpretation of symbolic patterns made by tea leaves in a teacup. Join Amy Taylor (Owner of TaoTaT’s Mystic Tearoom) as she talks about how this form of divination came to be the Art it is today. She will cover its rich history, origins, the tools used and the forms it is done in and by the end of this talk you will have an understanding of how to see what there is to see in your Teacup!